I didn't know I could, professor Richard Dawkins' wife told him when he asked her why she never expressed her reservations to some of the religious stuff taught to her at her Catholic school. Reading it, I sort of felt someone had articulated what I could never find words for. All those times I fretted and fumed in the kitchen cooking to appease some God whose existence I had never dared question and whose punitive powers I had always dreaded. All those rituals I had endured to evoke the supernatural beings in heaven to bless me with tons of fortunes and 99 more sons. And every time, I wish I had asked why. I wish I had questioned more. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with those who accept these rituals but why did I have to follow suit? Who says you need to wake up at 4 in the morning and cook Pongal and vadai and payasam and avial when all you want to do is curl up and go back to sleep? Who comes up with these menus? What'd happen if I simply refused to? What then? I know what you're going to say. It's not for us, it's for the kids. My son doesn't like any of the aforementioned items and would just as happily eat Weetabix for breakfast.
Trouble is, I have been there, done that. Every single Pongal and Deepavali and Navarathri and Karthigai Deepam. And take my word for it, I hated it! There, I've said it. I don't care if the gods are going to pierce me with the hottest trident in hell and roast me over a spitfire, nothing will get me back into the kitchen again to make seedai because that is what Krishna loves. When I doubt the very existence of Krishna, do I really care about his love for fried stuff? And have you noticed how most of our festivals just mean more housework for the woman? Why is that? Why can't we have festivals where the women get a break from the kitchen work? How about this Rama navami, the whole family eats out at Saravana Bhavan? Surely the gods won't mind that.
Looking back, I realise that part of the reason why I did what I did all these years was not because I loved it. Or that I somehow wanted our son to be part of our 'culture'. I really don't care much for that sort of 'culture', to be honest. But it's guilt that was driving me. That big ugly monster that sits on the dinner table with me, that wakes me up before all the family, that creeps into my voice each time I call India and that holds me back with a vice-like grip from exploring life. Yes, guilt. Not love. And I never knew I could say it. Not until this Pongal. When I dug my heels and refused to cook anything other than the usual. I would not be cowed into submission. I stayed in bed an extra half an hour that day. Even had my tea in bed. My porridge never tasted better. My morning was smoother and stress-free. And you know what? It felt good.
For a much better articulated rant, please also go here